Ashley’s Blog Post on Bonnie Zimmerman

            “Lesbian criticism begins with the establishment of the lesbian text: the creation of language out of silence. The critic must first define the term “lesbian” and then determine its applicability to both writer and text, sorting out the relation of literature to life” (Zimmerman 2339).

            Bonnie Zimmerman admits that there is a problem faced by lesbian critics when it comes to defining what is essentially lesbian. She states that lesbian criticism must begin with “the establishment of the lesbian text: the creation of language out of silence.” (2339). But, what is the lesbian text?  Perhaps Zimmerman is trying to suggest that what is essentially lesbian is exclusive to various critics, and therefore has no concretized, fully aestheticized definition. She goes on to state that “her definition of lesbianism will influence the texts she identifies” (2339). If Zimmerman is suggesting that this “language” emerge out of silence, she must be suggesting that lesbian literature, defined by lesbian critics, occupy its own space within the literary arena.

            What is most interesting about the suggestion that the lesbian text is a “language out of silence” is that it sheds light on the intersectionality of lesbian texts. It is not just the content, but also the critic whose attempt to flesh out a text shows the interconnectedness between an exclusive lesbian reading, and various cultural and social perspectives. Again, Zimmerman asserts that the critic “will need to consider whether a lesbian text is one written by a lesbian…one written about a lesbian…or one that expresses a lesbian vision”(2339). All of which, at some point during critical analyses, will integrate and influence the critics perspective of the text.


One thought on “Ashley’s Blog Post on Bonnie Zimmerman”

  1. Ashley, I am wondering – do you think that to say a lesbian critic’s definition of the lesbian text is to limit that text? And, do you think she is saying that someone other than the lesbian critic’s definition of a lesbian text is invalid? When I read this piece, Barthes “Death of the Author” kept creeping into my thought. I am wondering… if to say a text is lesbian because the author is, does that limit the possibility of interpretation of that text. To extend that further, I think that labeling a text as lesbian, feminist, post-colonial, etc. is to limit the intersectionality of that text (or allowing it a life of its own). It seems that once labeled as such, the primary axis of interpretation must be the label. Toni

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